Tag: Charlie Sturgeon

Melbourne Shakespeare Company’s A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM

Thoroughly won over

By Caitlin McGrane

A Midsummer Night’s Dream was the first Shakespeare play I studied at school, and thus while it holds a special place in my heart, certain scenes are forever etched into my memory. As the Melbourne Shakespeare Company’s production got underway, I was sceptical whether the blend of contemporary music and iambic pentameter were going to be a match. I needn’t have worried, as the performance rolled steadily onwards, and the actors became more comfortable in their roles, I felt completely at ease with the way the story was being told; the audience was in safe hands.

Melbourne Shakespeare Company's A Midsummer Night's Dream.jpg

For the uninitiated, the play entwines the stories of two groups; the Lovers: Hermia (Christina Forrest) and Lysander (Khrisraw Jones-Shukoor), Helena (Alisha Eddy) and Demetrius (Charlie Sturgeon); and the Players: Bottom (Johnathan Peck), Flute (John Reed), Quince (Ben Frank Adams), Snout (Ben Noel Adams), Snug (Nick Murphy) and Starvelling (Myles Tankle).

Hermia and Lysander are forbidden to wed, so flee Athens, hotly pursued by Helena and Demetrius. While fleeing they wander into a forest bewitched by faerie King Oberon (Steven Fleiner) and Queen Titania (Angela Lumicisi), with help from mischievous Puck (Paul Robertson). There’s magic potions, asses heads and lots of shouting about love as the magical beings play with the lives of the mere mortals, meanwhile the players are rehearsing the play Pyramus and Thisbe to perform at Theseus (Karl Sarsfield) and Hippolyta’s (Madi Lee) wedding. Confused yet? You should be.

As an ensemble the cast was great, I was initially wary of the players’ boisterous gallivanting and gadding about, but by the end of their first proper scene together I couldn’t wait for them to reappear. I was particular impressed by Johnathan Peck’s unique and profoundly physical take on Bottom as a sympathetic but emotionally fragile simpleton, and I need a GIF of him performing the death scene from Pyramus and Thisbe to play on a loop at my funeral; I laughed so much I cried and am still laughing thinking about it now. Christina Forrest’s Hermia was similarly energetic and gravity-defying, which helped prevent the inherently dialogue-heavy play from getting bogged down in its own trickery.

I enjoyed the silly playfulness that director Jennifer Sarah Dean has brought to the play, although moments of the Pyramus and Thisbe performance would benefit from tightening to avoid relying too heavily on slapstick. Designer Simon Bowland has done an excellent job with costumes and make-up (faeries looked suitably bedazzled), but it did look like Oberon had wandered out on stage in his dressing gown and slippers and didn’t quite match the majesty of Titania – if this was a deliberate move then I’m afraid it was lost on me. Save for a few moments where the play sagged towards the end after all the frenetic activity, it was thoroughly good fun.

Beautifully nestled in Testing Grounds just behind the Arts Centre, City Road and the Southbank apartments provided a peculiarly complementary backdrop for this contemporary adaptation of a true classic.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream is playing at Testing Grounds twice each day on 26 and 27 March 2016. Tickets available from: http://www.testing-grounds.com.au/calendar?view=calendar&month=March-2016

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REVIEW: Quiet Achievers

A quietly improvised comedy

By Myron My

Performing an improvised comedy show can be more terrifying than performing stand up. You have no idea what’s going to happen next from both your fellow cast and the audience. In essence, you have no safety net. You’d think that’s risky enough but the Quiet Achievers have taken it a step further with their Melbourne International Comedy Festival show and taken away a comedian’s most powerful tool; their voice.

Quiet Achievers

With nothing but a musical soundtrack of 500 songs played at random, the Quiet Achievers (Andrew Strano and Charlie Sturgeon) set out to captivate us with a mixed bag of silent impro sketches. As with any impro show, there is always a chance scenes will not hit the mark and with this show there are moments when stories fizzle out with an awkward ending or the story gets convoluted and confusing.

However, the two are charming and affable enough to get the audience on side early on so even when things go haywire, we don’t mind and can still appreciate the performance. There are some brilliant moments from this talented duo though, including the kite flying love story and their story about the little bird that learnt how to stand up for itself.

Strano and Sturgeon are a great pair to watch on stage. Strano’s comedy man to Sturgeon’s straight man is highly complimentary and the two have a great connection on stage. They are constantly aware of each other and what they are doing; they work hard (but seemingly easily) at giving each other a good time and making their partner look good. They happily accept every offer in advancing the story with confidence and a sense of fun.

 

There are a number of improvised comedy shows on during the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, but if you’re looking for something a little different, a little riskier but very rewarding, then the Quiet Achievers is the show for you.

 

Venue: Tuxedo Cat, 17-23 Wills St, Melbourne

Season: Until 4 April | Mon – Sat 6pm, Sun 5pm (no Wednesday show)

Tickets: $15 Full | $12 Conc

Bookings: Try Booking

REVIEW: La Mama Presents MONOLOGUE FOR A MURDERER

The ethics of dramatizing real-world horrors

By Myron My

High school shootings seem to be a distressing regular occurrence of late and remain a touchy subject in film and theatre. In Monologue for a Murderer, Kate Rice uses the tenth anniversary of the 2002 German school massacre in the town of Erfurt as the impetus to tell this story, and whilst the work is nothing new on its own, the intelligent narrative structure and direction makes this play something very different.

Monologue for a Murderer

Three points of views are explored in Monologue for a Murderer. The events leading up to the school massacre are examined through the eyes of then school principal, Frau Doktor (Kaarin Fairfax), and the eyes of killer, Robert Steinhäuser (Nicholas Denton). Whilst the time jumps are a little unclear and confusing to begin with, things soon settle and the narrative comes together quite well with a highly intense retelling of those final moments.

The third point of view playwright Rice uses is that of her own, played by Kirsty Hillhouse. As Rice – who was in Erfurt for the tenth anniversary – Hillhouse speaks directly to us and gives us some insight into her own personal ethics and inner conflict in creating theatre and entertainment from such a horrific event and her subsequent attempts to pay respect to the lives affected by Steinhäuser.

There are some strong performances from the cast from Hillhouse, and Denton as the troubled young killer. However, the role of Frau Doktor felt miscast with Fairfax unfortunately unable to convey the deep level of grief and responsibility felt. Moreover, Charlie Sturgeon also struggled to convince in any of the characters he portrays, with little discernible differentiation between his roles, even in tone or body language.

A unique script, and apt direction by Jeremy Rice, ensure that Monologue for a Murderer doesn’t present as just another play about another high-school shooting but opens out into a powerful discussion of what theatre can be, for an audience member, an actor and a writer.

Venue: La Mama Courthouse, 349 Drummond St, Carlton

Season: Until 9 November | Wed 6:30pm. Thu-Sat 7:30pm, Sun 4pm

Tickets: $25 Full | $15 Concession

Bookings: http://lamama.com.au